Background. Many new cancer medicines have been developed that can improve patients’ outcomes. However, access to these agents comes later in Europe than in the United States (US). The aim of this study is to assess the access in Europe to newly registered cancer drugs and to get more insight in the implications of these variations for patients. Methods. A retrospective database study was conducted. Analyses involved 12 cancer drugs and 28 European countries in the period 2011–2018. Time to patient access, speed of drug uptake, and the potential loss of life years due to a delayinaccesshavebeenstudied. Results. Marketingapprovalforthecancerdrugscameonaverage 242 days later in Europe than in the US, and actual patient access varied extensively across Europe. The average time to market in Europe was 403 days (range 17–1187 days). The delay in patient access of ipilimumab and abiraterone may have led to a potential loss of more than 30,000 life years. Conclusion. It takes a long time for patients to get access to newly registered cancer drugs and there is great variation in access. The health outcomes can be substantially improved by faster processes.